Sound — 8
Warped Tour connoisseurs are no strangers to change. Out of every genre, they lose and replace more personnel, almost to the point that it's natural and if they haven't incorporated a new singer and drummer into the band, they are not a band. In some particular cases, a group strives off the new energy, kicking and screaming their way to a new found glory, that is until they crash and burn every last piece of their existence. In other cases, you have a band like Chiodos. The post hardcore act known for releasing the well-respected All's Well That Ends Well in 2005, saw the departure of a dear friend (drummer Derrick Frost) and a iconic vocalist (singer Craig Owens). Knowing Owens was practically the face of Chiodos, it isn't disrespectful to say the end seemed near for the Michigan act.
Brandon Bolmer changed all that. The Yesterdays Rising vocalist was handed the reins and as the opening of Illuminaudio shouts, he's capable of steering this voyage for years to come. Built from common theatrical undertones, the self-titled opening track swoons in with Bolmer's hindered wail to introduce "Caves" and it's childlike hooks preceded by true American post-hardcore hooks that have given Chiodos a serious reputation. Similar to past work, Illuminaudio won't inflate your senses with an honest amount of experimentation. It will reassure the group hasn't lost it's adoration for eery spine-snapping guitar work, a constantly fueled rhythm section and keyboard work as witnessed on "Love Is A Cat From Hell" that extinguishes any misconceptions that Casios are for the lonely art types.
Lyrics — 7
As a frontman, Craig Owens defined a half-decade with a talented set of pipes that flirted between the boundaries of clean and unclean vocals. It gave Chiodos the voice it needed and to say he won't be missed is like saying you don't miss the hot instructor you had in high school. Knowing he has big shoes to feel, Bolmer steps in with an intent to redefine, not replace. With the use of complex post-hardcore lyrics that don't differ from any material written by Chiodos before, the vocalist twists your arm with a sense of innocence ("His Story Repeats Itself") before knocking out your shin with vicious unclean vocals.
The only disappointment is Bolmer's scream is sparsely littered on Illuminaudio, leaving perfectly balanced pieces of work ("Scaremonger", "Hey Zeus! The Dungeon") looking rather weak in various sections. The lack of ferocity followers admire sets up the flaw that the new vocalist flirts with the ability to sound almost too close to Owens at times ("Those Who Slay Together, Stay"). An unpolished whine does separate the two as Bolmer is an impressive voice, but its a minor tear in his character that could transform into a disease if not treated.
Overall Impression — 7
In all honesty, many believed Chiodos would feel the wrath of a finishing blow and become another alternative punk casuality. Instead of surrendering to a labeled fate, the group excels with Illuminaudio, highlighting what's made them groundbreaking in the past. They don't turn into an untamed screamo beast but refine their craft, improving every aspect of their sound providing Brandon Bolmer with a space to make him comfortable and confident enough to break out from a shell of backlash, negative predictions and comparisons that stray away from his evident talent.